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The Cultural Conservative Love Affair With Vladimir Putin Is Quite Odd

Vladimir Putin Sunglasses

Pat Buchanan is out with yet another column praising Russian President Vladimir Putin, asserting this time around that the authoritarian leader, and former KGB officer, is a good example of the form of conservatism that he believes America needs to adopt:

Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?

In the culture war for mankind’s future, is he one of us?

While such a question may be blasphemous in Western circles, consider the content of the Russian president’s state of the nation address.

With America clearly in mind, Putin declared, “In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered.”

“They’re now requiring not only the proper acknowledgment of freedom of conscience, political views and private life, but also the mandatory acknowledgment of the equality of good and evil.”

Translation: While privacy and freedom of thought, religion and speech are cherished rights, to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil.

No moral confusion here, this is moral clarity, agree or disagree.

(…)

While much of American and Western media dismiss him as an authoritarian and reactionary, a throwback, Putin may be seeing the future with more clarity than Americans still caught up in a Cold War paradigm.

As the decisive struggle in the second half of the 20th century was vertical, East vs. West, the 21st century struggle may be horizontal, with conservatives and traditionalists in every country arrayed against the militant secularism of a multicultural and transnational elite.

And though America’s elite may be found at the epicenter of anti-conservatism and anti-traditionalism, the American people have never been more alienated or more divided culturally, socially and morally.

We are two countries now.

Putin says his mother had him secretly baptized as a baby and professes to be a Christian. And what he is talking about here is ambitious, even audacious.

He is seeking to redefine the “Us vs. Them” world conflict of the future as one in which conservatives, traditionalists, and nationalists of all continents and countries stand up against the cultural and ideological imperialism of what he sees as a decadent west.

“We do not infringe on anyone’s interests,” said Putin, “or try to teach anyone how to live.” The adversary he has identified is not the America we grew up in, but the America we live in, which Putin sees as pagan and wildly progressive.

This isn’t the first time that Buchanan has heaped praise on Putin for his seeming cultural conservatism. Back in August when most Americans and other around the world were condemning Putin and Russia for the anti-gay legislation that is causing some world leaders to reconsider whether they’ll be going to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Buchanan was praising Putin’s Russia for passing laws limiting the rights of people just because they’re gay:

Our moral and cultural elites have put Putin on notice: Get in step with us on homosexual rights — or we may just boycott your Sochi games.

What this reveals is the distance America has traveled, morally and culturally, in a few short years, and our amnesia about who we Americans once were, and what it is we once believed.

Only yesterday, homosexual sodomy, which Thomas Jefferson said should be treated like rape, was outlawed in many states and same-sex marriage was regarded as an absurdity.

Was that America we grew up in really like Nazi Germany?

In the Catholic schools this writer attended, pornography — let alone homs taosexual propaganda — would get one expelled.

Was this really just like Kristallnacht?

As Father Regis Scanlon writes in Crisis Magazine, in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated Catholic doctrine that homosexuality is a “strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil,” an “objective disorder.” That homosexual acts are unnatural and immoral remains Catholic teaching.

Thus, if we seek to build a Good Society by traditional Catholic and Christian standards, why should not homosexual propaganda be treated the same as racist or anti-Semitic propaganda?

Now, as then, Buchanan is joined in his praise for a man who has jailed political opponents, made war against Chechens and Georgia, fixed elections, and denied rights to his fellow Russians on a whim by Rod Dreher who also sees this man as some kind of ally:

Putin may be a cold-eyed cynic, but he’s also onto something. I don’t think Buchanan is correct in his column statement that America has been de-Christianized from above. I agree with him to a limited extent, but our all-American individualism and mode of capitalism have done far more to eliminate cultural conservatism and Christianity than elites have. The real question is whether or not Russia — or any nation — can modernize without liberalizing. China has (so far) achieved great wealth and economic dynamism without embracing liberal democracy, thus disproving the view common in the US over the last generation that economic liberalization would require cultural liberalization. So, we’ll see.

Putin is faced with having to rebuild a nation that was absolutely devastated, at the cultural and social level, by Marxism-Leninism. It is hard to overstate what the destruction of civil society and the spiritual and cultural life of Russia did to the nation. My guess is that he sees no hope that rebuilding Russia along Western lines is a solution, given in part the collapse in fertility in the West, and given how grim Russia’s own fertility situation is. If Russia is going to have a future, he must figure, it must be built on organic Russian traditions, which includes Orthodox Christianity.

Dreher may be correct on that last point. After all, there is a long history in Russia of an alliance between the political powers of the time and the Russian Orthodox Church. It was true in the time of the Czars when Russia essential stood as a guarantor of the Russian Patriarh’s claim to a large degree of independence from the Orthodox Patriarchite in Constantinople/Istanbul and the Church’s endorsement gave some sense of moral legitimacy to Czarist rule no matter how authoritarian it may have been. Notwithstanding the official atheism and the fact that it did, in the beginning, seize Church property and persecute people of faith, even the Communist leadership of the Soviet Union and the Russian Orthodox Church found a way to make peace. When the Soviet Union finally fell, the Church quickly began returning to its former place in Russian society and once again began forging close ties with the powers-that-be and the Russian state once again began exploiting its ties to the Church to enhance its power over the Russian populace. Indeed, according to many reports since 1991, the position of non-Orthodox religions in Russia has become increasingly precarious as the Church has done its best to use connections with the state to make life difficult for the small populations of Protestants and (mostly Eastern Rite) Catholics in the nation. That, essentially, is what Putin is doing here I think, using the Church to enhance his own political power. Either Buchanan and Dreher are blind to that fact, or they’re willing to ignore it because Putin is saying things they agree with.

When I first wrote about this back in August, I made this point:

First of all, it’s astonishing that anyone would not see through the absolute cynicism of Vladimir Putin’s supposed defense of “Christian values.” In the end, it’s no different from the manner in which the Czars, and even the Soviet Communists, turned the Russian Orthodox Church into a tool of the state. Vladimir Putin is no more a defender of Christianity than he is an advocate of open government. Secondly, as much as Dreher might like to think otherwise, it seems clear to me that it’s impossible to separate Putin’s “morally praiseworthy” ways from his repressive ones. The fact that American conservatives are defending his actions, even in part, is either a sign of willful blindness, or a sign that they are so desperate to find allies for the losing side of the culture war that they continue to fight that they are willing to overlook tyranny and repression.

In Buchanan’s case, that’s not entirely surprising. This is a guy who spent more than a decade defending John Demanjuk, a man who had demonstrably committed war crimes while a guard at a Nazi concentration camp. He’s also argued that Poland should be held at least partly responsible for World War II because it didn’t give in to Hitler’s demands. At heart, he’s nothing more than a conservative in love with leaders who use power to achieve their ends regardless of whether its legal/moral or not. This shouldn’t be surprising given his history with Richard Nixon. I’m not sure what Dreher’s motivation is other than perpetuate the myth of the “culture war,” something that Buchanan made the center of his 1992 campaign for President. I suppose he’s entitled to fight a losing battle against the future if he wishes, but I honestly don’t see why he feels the need to lavish praise on an obvious enemy of human freedom like Vlaidmir Putin while doing so, and nothing he’s written on the topic has explained it clearly.

I do wonder, though, how many other self-described “conservatives” agree with this position.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CB says:

    I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, but there’s no deeper consideration going on here outside of the fact that he’s a patriarchal strongman with Orthodox views who (as they see it) challenged Obama. Period.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 3

  2. wr says:

    A conservative’s idea of “freedom” usually comes down to a state run by a dictator who hates the same pople they do. They still worship Pinochet for “saving” Chile’s economy, and don’t mind at all the thousands who were tortured and murdered, because they were all “those people” — poor, liberal, and opposed to the dictatorship of the righteous.

    If Stalin had simply called himself a “free market conservative” and done exactly the same things he did as a Communist, they’d sill be kissing his ring today, just as America’s conservatives fell all over themselves praising Hitler, Mussolini and Franco until their ally inconveniently declared war on us.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 17

  3. Mikey says:

    Well, it’s obvious: hatred of gays and Jews trumps all in Buchanan-world, and therefore it’s not at all surprising to me that he’d have praise for a world leader who shares those attributes, even if said leader has nothing but contempt for any of the great American values Buchanan claims to champion.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 5

  4. CSK says:

    I don’t find it odd that Putin is a hero to American cultural conservatives. In addition to being anti-gay and pro-Christianity (at least for public relations purposes) he also appears to be anti-abortion. That, for a fundamentalist, is the absolute trifecta of desirability.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 22 Thumb down 12

  5. KM says:

    There has always been a strain of authoritarianism in fundamentalist religion that rejoices in seeing an echo in government. Not conservatism per se, mind you, but the do-as-I-say-or-ELSE forcefulness that draws the power-hungry to that which has control over the populace. The kind of religious nuts that want the government to enforce religion (ONLY THEIRS!!) by any means love people like Putin who does what he wants when he wants. That kind of control is manna to them and they stretch their hands to heaven and beg. He’s the man they all long to be and is doing what they not-so-secretly are trying to do.

    That he’s a scoundrel, a duplicitous user in the game for himself is irrelevant. That he is a shining example of all that anti-Communist propaganda is irrelevant. That’s he’s blatantly using idiots like them to gain power is irrelevant. The man plays to win and they want in on the Game.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 7

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Buchanan is not a conservative, he’s a fascist. He’s always been a fascist.

    And not to shock you too much, Doug, but an awful lot of what passes as conservative in this country is emotionally and temperamentally fascist. A guy like our friend Florack, for example, is just a brown shirt in search of a führer.

    I pointed out a few weeks back (to much attack) that the Tea Party bore striking similarities to pre-Vichy France and Vichy itself. Nostalgia for imaginary past glory, the most conservative iterations of Christianity, racism and nativism, demonization of the “other,” a love affair with all things gun or military, resentment of the modern, an obsession with masculinity, predictions of doom . . .

    Not all self-identified conservatives are fascist, obviously, some are actual conservatives. But I don’t think the definition of conservative means much anymore in American politics, and the definition has clearly come to include people who are not even a little bit interested in freedom and equality, but really just want a good excuse to shove a gun in someone’s back.

    We have nuts on our side, too, but our nuts earn eyerolls and exasperated sighs, we don’t let them run things. And our nuts don’t accumulate arsenals to water the tree of liberty with the blood of fag*ots and ni**ers. No, that’s just on the right. So, surprised that they’d embrace a fascist like Putin? Not even a little bit.

    “Conservatives” were so desperate for power and so devoid of genuine principle that they welcomed their darkest forces taking charge. Now they’re trying to shove those people back into the fever swamps. Had they listened to liberals who had the Tea Party dead right from day 1, the GOP wouldn’t be the mess it is and conservatism might still be a thing.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 54 Thumb down 18

  7. ernieyeball says:

    It doesn’t take long to find damning prose about or by Mr. Buchanan.
    Consider this item posted at WikiP referencing that wild eyed cultural heretic William F. Buckley

    In 1991 William F. Buckley, Jr. wrote a 40,000-word National Review article discussing anti-Semitism amongst conservative commentators focused largely on Buchanan; the article and many responses to it were collected in the book In Search of Anti-Semitism (1992). He concluded: “I find it impossible to defend Pat Buchanan against the charge that what he did and said during the period under examination amounted to anti-Semitism.”

    Then there is this bit from Mr. Buchanan’s tome Suicide Of A Superpower

    Perhaps some of us misremember the past. But the racial, religious, cultural, social, political, and economic divides today seem greater than they seemed even in the segregation cities some of us grew up in.
    Back then, black and white lived apart, went to different schools and churches, played on different playgrounds, and went to different restaurants, bars, theaters, and soda fountains. But we shared a country and a culture. We were one nation. We were Americans.

    All I can think is that the man has never had a grasp on reality or he is a total fraud.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

  8. DrDaveT says:

    I’m pretty sure that Pat Buchanan is only pro-God because he thinks God is anti-gay. That pansy cheek-turning love-your-neighbor-as-yourself inasmuch-as-ye-have-done-it-to-the-least-of-these-my-brethren dude from the New Testament was clearly not a real Christian.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 8

  9. Mr. Replica says:

    I do wonder, though, how many other self-described “conservatives” agree with this position.

    Probably around the same amount that agree with the paranoid delusional conspiracy theories that surround President Obama. That see this Putin idolization as an enemy mine scenario.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

  10. Nikki says:

    What CB said. If they perceive that [WORLD LEADER] made Obama look bad, they’re all for him/her!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

  11. JohnMcC says:

    I don’t think most of the present “conservative” side recognizes Mr Buchanon as one of their own, although Mr Dreher probably does. Whether there is more similarity between them and him than they realize, well, one can draw his own conclusions.

    Still, Mr Buchanon’s historical writing is amazing in it’s, hummm…. “originality”. I see Wikipedia has a lengthy article about his “Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War” for anyone with better sense than to read the entire thing. The short version: Churchill was a war-loving jerk and German foreign policy during the first half of the 20th century was defensive because the British-French-Russian alliance encircled and threatened them.

    Really!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  12. Lounsbury says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You can also refer to the Poujadist movement. Populist semi-democratic authoritarian instincts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  13. al-Ameda says:

    Pat Buchanon:

    Thus, if we seek to build a Good Society by traditional Catholic and Christian standards, why should not homosexual propaganda be treated the same as racist or anti-Semitic propaganda?

    Pat is certainly free to move to the low tax Motherland that he admires so much – Russia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  14. legion says:

    It’s not odd in the slightest. the hard-right conservative mindset is universally one of deep fear and inability to process new concepts. Without exception, every single Fox talking head (and dedicated viewer) is desperately seeking some sort of manly, butch, “daddy figure” to tell them what to do & what to believe. The macho overcompensation practically drips off of their paeans to Putin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 8

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Curses, you have out obscure-referenced me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  16. michael reynolds says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Uganda is very much in line with his thinking as well. So I guess he’d be happy there with. . . Oh, yeah. Never mind.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  17. gVOR08 says:

    This is not “odd”. For reasons well enumerated in the comments above, this is entirely unsurprising. It’s a little surprising Buchanan would choose to go here in print, but there is a natural affinity between American culture warriors and Putin.

    And why would they be able to detect that Putin is acting, when they can’t detect it in American politicians? If you can believe Newt Gingrich is a sincere supporter of family values, you’ll believe anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  18. Gustopher says:

    The Cultural Conservatives hate gays, and are looking for a strong daddy type. Of course they love Putin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 7

  19. Kylopod says:

    Wake me up when Buchanan starts praising the “moral clarity” of Islamic fundamentalists who attack gays.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  20. Woody says:

    I do wonder, though, how many other self-described “conservatives” agree with this position

    .

    As 21st century American conservatism is largely a purely reactionary movement, in outraged opposition to any social development since the Ancien Regime, I’d say “nearly all of them”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

  21. anjin-san says:

    I’m not seeing how this is “odd” – the attraction of authoritarianism for conservatives is well documented.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

  22. dazedandconfused says:

    …an obvious enemy of human freedom like Vlaidmir Putin…

    Really? I don’t think that is accurate. I think Vladi has internally acknowledged that self-evident truth that governments rule only by the consent of the governed. He is working the Russian Orthodox church by encouraging it and supporting it. That’s both populism and a willingness to allow another power center in Russia, one of the oldest an most dangerous, religion.

    The main cause for this “amazement” about Putin appears to be due to a tape of the USSR running in some folks subconscious. Russia both pre and post dates Stalin/Stalinism though.

    Before the USSR Russia was ruled by authoritarian Czars, then Stalin, then a chaos, perhaps more accurately described as a mafiaocracy. And those post-fall gangs were pretty ugly. When all the government housing got handed to private “industry” they included a grandfather clause that demanded the old folks on fixed incomes could only be charged a very small rent. The quicker they died, the sooner those apartments could be let for a market rate. Some stats indicate about two million people died a wee bit early.

    As shocking as it may seem to us, a lot of people are willing to trade certain “freedoms” for the freedoms granted by plain ol’ order. Perhaps that is only so because we now have little or no cultural memory of not having any and take it for granted. Not just here, but even all cultures and societies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  23. In Buchanan’s case, that’s not entirely surprising. This is a guy who spent more than a decade defending John Demanjuk, a man who had demonstrably committed war crimes while a guard at a Nazi concentration camp. He’s also argued that Poland should be held at least partly responsible for World War II because it didn’t give in to Hitler’s demands. At heart, he’s nothing more than a conservative in love with leaders who use power to achieve their ends regardless of whether its legal/moral or not.

    Don’t forget about Buchanan writing the statement for Ronny! defending his visit to the Bitburg cemetery: He compared dead soldiers of the Waffen-SS (i.e., war criminals) with victims of the Nazi concentration camps.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  24. Rob in CT says:

    Odd?

    Right-wing authoritarians like a Right-wing authoritarian. News at 11.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

  25. Moosebreath says:

    Doug shows once again how little he understands the people he supports.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  26. Andre Kenji says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    I think Vladi has internally acknowledged that self-evident truth that governments rule only by the consent of the governed.

    No. Putin is basically a thug that uses the structure of the Russian State(And state owned companies like Gazprom) to his own benefit and to destroy his political opponents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  27. KM says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    I think Vladi has internally acknowledged that self-evident truth that governments rule only by the consent of the governed.

    No. That statement is indicative of the problem.

    He figured out how to fleece people who believe that. What he discovered is there’s a sucker born every minute and all you have to do is pretend to give them what they wanted in exchange for loyalty and devotion. He’s internally acknowledged that he can get a majority to follow him by appealing to their lower instincts and fears incredibly easily. Putin isn’t giving rights to anybody but Putin – it’s his consent that matters, everyone else can go hang.

    Look how the right fawns over a former Communist and KGB man when those are among the dirtiest words in their vocabulary!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I do wonder, though, how many other self-described “conservatives” agree with this position.

    Hmmmm…. 27% comes to mind.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  29. dennis says:

    Damn. Michael Reynolds smoked ‘em — again — today. That is all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  30. Pinky says:

    This thread is so weird. It’s non- or anti-conservatives talking about what conservatives think about Putin. No conservatives talking about what they think about Putin, or what they perceive their fellow conservatives think about Putin.

    From my perspective, Buchanan speaks for about 3% of self-described conservatives. No Tea Party type, except for the conspiracy-theory crowd, would praise Putin, seeing him as a big-government pseudo-communist. No libertarian would praise him because he’s a heavy-handed dictator. The mainstream conservative woudn’t be impressed by Putin’s outwitting of President Obama, because Obama has no interest in being a foreign policy leader. Many social conservatives favor laws against homosexual activity, and a greater respect for Christianity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  31. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky:
    The mainstream conservative woudn’t be impressed by Putin’s outwitting of President Obama, because Obama has no interest in being a foreign policy leader. Many social conservatives favor laws against homosexual activity, and a greater respect for Christianity.
    Tow things:
    (1) With respect to that conservative icon, Putin, you’re saying that Putin now owns a very possible Syrian fiasco? Damn that Obama, why couldn’t we own that mess?

    (2) Respect for Christianity? Many social conservatives have no respect for Pope Francis, who is promoting a Catholicism that advocates for people who are less fortunate and in need, with a lot less emphasis on a conservative interpretation of religious doctrine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  32. @dazedandconfused:

    Vladi has internally acknowledged that self-evident truth that governments rule only by the consent of the governed

    If he has internalized it, he has kept it internal.

    I would suggest reading the latest Freedom House report on Russia

    Some highlights:

    Russia is not an electoral democracy. The 2012 presidential election was skewed in favor of prime minister and former president Vladimir Putin, who benefited from preferential media treatment, numerous abuses of incumbency, and procedural irregularities during the vote count, among other advantages. The deeply flawed 2011 Duma elections were marked by a “convergence of the state and the governing party, limited political competition and a lack of fairness,” according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, but many voters used them to express a protest against the status quo.

    And

    Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech, the government controls, directly or through state-owned companies, all of the national television networks. Only a handful of radio stations and publications with limited audiences offer a wide range of viewpoints. At least 19 journalists have been killed since Putin came to power, including three in 2009, and in no cases have the organizers of the murders been prosecuted. Vague laws on extremism make it possible to crack down on any speech, organization, or activity that lacks official support. Discussion on the internet is largely unrestricted, but the government devotes extensive resources to manipulating online information and analysis. In November 2012, a broadly worded new law, ostensibly targeting information that is unsuitable for children, created a blacklist of internet outlets that initially led to the shuttering of more than 180 sites.

    .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  33. Pinky says:

    @al-Ameda: (1) That really doesn’t apply to what we’re talking about.
    (2) That really doesn’t apply to what we’re talking about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  34. Tillman says:

    Apparently, “moral clarity” means “easily-defined black-and-white analyses of all situations” to these people, when it should mean, “I’ve got established principles and I’ve thought through how to apply them in the real world.” There is such a thing as a clear and complex moral system.

    Now that I think over it again, “moral clarity” seems to mean “willing to talk loudly about morally relevant things.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  35. Kylopod says:

    @Tillman: Excellent point. One of the ironies of Buchanan’s remarks is that he uses quite relativistic language, particularly when he writes: “No moral confusion here, this is moral clarity, agree or disagree.” It’s that last phrase–”agree or disagree”–that’s especially revealing. He’s implying that what he calls “moral clarity” is a virtue in itself, regardless of what moral position one holds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  36. dazedandconfused says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    By our standards he doesn’t measure up, I’m not disputing that. What I am disputing is the characterization of him as “the enemy of human freedom”. Anyone who thinks Putin is just like Stalin doesn’t know much about at least one of them, probably both.

    Mafia bosses are hardly “friends of human freedom” as well. Putin has a lot of support in there, let’s not kid ourselves. He’s extremely sharp, well educated, and while he hasn’t completely ended the mobs they fear his government and that has put a check on their power. It is appreciated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. @dazedandconfused: One can be an authoritarian (and, hence, not a promoter of human freedom) and still not be Stalin. I concur he isn’t Stalin, but he is no democrat, either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  38. Barry says:

    @CSK: ” That, for a fundamentalist, is the absolute trifecta of desirability. ”

    With a delicious frosting of brutal repression and loss of freedom!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  39. dazedandconfused says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It’s a tricky concept. One can also be authoritarian and not be the enemy of human freedom. Lincoln tossed his political opponents in the clink when he felt it essential. I suspect a lot of folks believe Russia was just chugging along fine on the road to Nirvana, and would be there now, had evil Vladimir not loomed his head over it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  40. An Interested Party says:

    Lincoln tossed his political opponents in the clink when he felt it essential.

    There is no possible way that Lincoln can be compared with Putin…well, they both were/are human…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  41. bandit says:

    @wr: Unmitigated bullshit. When you type something that stupid does it hurt your head? The projection of the totalitarian left on their ideological opponents. Funny how the left has never met a totalitarian mass murderer it couldn’t love.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  42. bandit says:

    @Nikki: Nobody makes Obama look bad – he doesn’t need any help.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  43. buzz4t says:

    @wr: @michael reynolds: I see you are going with the left caricature of the tea party, rather than the tea party itself. The tea party is for constitutional government and fiscal sanity. All the other stuff you mention is either from the social conservatives of the Republican Party trying to co-opt or (as you are doing) a bastardization of the tea party from the left (with considerable assistance from the establishment Republican party) to demonize them to a point where they remain a fringe party and the reckless spending and dismantling of the Constitution can continue on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  44. Pinky says:

    @bandit: Good catch. I hadn’t noticed wr’s comment, but you’re right that it’s all nonsense. It was the left that had a love affair with Hitler and Mussolini as socialist icons. They hated Franco, but the Spanish Civil War was complicated. Outsiders, leftist thugs, and peasants on one side; outsiders, rightist thugs, and peasants on the other. And “rightist” includes a lot of different things in Europe, not many of which relate to its meaning in the US. I can only hope that the up-voters on that comment didn’t read it any closer than I did on my first pass.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  45. Whitherwhence says:

    I seem to recall a certain presidential candidate declaring that Putin’s Russia was our number one geopolitical foe. (He was vilified for saying it, too).

    I recall his opponent telling Putin’s right hand man that after the election he would have more flexibility (to capitulate to Putin).

    Buchanan does not speak for conservatives, unless he’s on a show that wants to demean conservatives (McLaughlin Group), Take a look at every thread on FoxNews, the Blaze, or the like, and you will find no praise of Putin.

    These smug, obdurate comments following a line of argument “Of course they like Putin” beg the question: do they like Putin? No. No they don’t. And you condescending lefties know, deep down, that your Leftist regimes have been the ones most cruel to homosexuals throughout modern history.

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  46. SDN says:

    I see that the author and most of the commenters are fighting with the cardboard cutouts of conservatives in their heads again.

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  47. @Whitherwhence:

    I seem to recall a certain presidential candidate declaring that Putin’s Russia was our number one geopolitical foe.

    This thread isn’t about geopolitics, it is about whether Putin is worthy of admiration as some sort of conservative (as well as the degree to which he is an authoritarian). This is a separate issue from geopolitics (and no, Putin’s Russia is not the US” number one geopolitical foe”–that remains a problematic pronouncement).

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  48. @Pinky:

    It was the left that had a love affair with Hitler and Mussolini as socialist icons.

    While I suppose that some leftist somewhere at some point admired these fellows,, the notion that Hitler and Mussolini were some kind of leftist icons is ridiculous.

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  49. AnObserver says:

    The turn towards Putin is hardly inexplicable. Many on the right were led to believe the culture wars could have an outcome of live and let live. They now realize that was a sham. Having to now pick sides why should they not be expected to choose right wing enemies of freedom over left wing enemies of freedom?

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  50. rosignol says:

    @CSK:

    It would be unwise to take what Pat Buchanan says as being indicative of much beyond what’s going on in Pat Buchanan’s head.

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  51. Pinky says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Are you trolling me (again)? Or is this another case of your recollection of history being different from, well, history? Are we back to the 1950′s Louisiana lynchings and a Cold War in which everyone agreed that the Soviets were an evil empire?

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  52. @Pinky: It is unclear to me how making a factual statement is trolling. Also: recollections aren’t evidence. I have no doubt that you have heard that Hitler and Mussolini were leftist icons, but that does not make it so.

    The bottom line is, however, that both Hitler and Mussolini were virulently anti-communist and there was precious little about their regimes that would have been all that appealing to leftists.

    What is the basis of your claim?

    My claim is based on the writings of the men in question, and the nature of their regimes, for example.

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  53. @bandit:

    Funny how the left has never met a totalitarian mass murderer it couldn’t love.

    It is true, for example, that Stalin, Pol Pot, and and others were of the left, and were mass murderers. However, if you are asserting that the American left, especially run of the mill Democrats, loved these fellows, you are simply wrong.

    What, exactly, are you asserting?

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  54. @dazedandconfused:

    It’s a tricky concept. One can also be authoritarian and not be the enemy of human freedom.

    All such concepts are complex, yes. Is this really all that tricky in this case? Not especially,

    First, you seem to be ignoring the rather extensive information about the state of politics in Russia at the moment (as well as the role that Putin played in getting it to that point).

    Second, there is a difference between an authoritarian act and actually being an authoritarian ruler,

    Third, you are comparing a president in the middle of a civil war and one in a non-emergency situation. This complicates the comparison, to out it mildly.

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  55. Pinky says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2008/01/am_i_a_fascist.html

    “Goldberg’s argument begins with the observation that well into the 1930s, the American progressive movement had more admiration than scorn for Benito Mussolini, who coined the words fascist and totalitarian, and even for Adolf Hitler. This isn’t news to anyone with even a glancing familiarity with American history.”

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  56. Pinky says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Actually, you know what, I’m embarrassed at myself for bothering to find a liberal asserting the common knowledge about Hitler and Mussolini and the American left. The knowledge is so common that you can’t be serious if you’re implying it’s not true. Maybe – slightly maybe – if you were to claim that Hitler wasn’t admired among American communists, then I could accept it, but the fact is he was supported and at least tolerated by them up until 1941. Mussolini, the left looked upon as a visionary.

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  57. @Pinky:

    First, a quote from a column about Jonah Goldberg’s book is not exactly evidence.

    Second, I acknowledged above that some on the left may have admired Hitler/Mussolini. My point was that they were never leftist icons, which was the basis of your original claim: “It was the left that had a love affair with Hitler and Mussolini as socialist icons.”

    Ultimately, however, you are misunderstanding the overall ideological place of fascism, and its Nazi variant. They were both anti-liberal and anti-communist. You can base your opinions on snippets from columns, or from individual factoids that you think make your case, or you can attempt to understand the actual history in question and how it actually played out.

    So, to get back to your earlier assertion: this is no trolling, this is about actually understanding a broad arc of history rather than trying to play a silly game of partisan point scoring.

    If it makes you feel any better, I will gladly concede that there were some in the US, and from the lefwing perspective, who have very positive views of the initial developments in Germany and Italy. That, however, does not make Hitler and Mussolini “socialist icons.”

    Perhaps the problem is a misunderstanding or lack of agreement over what constitutes an “icon.”

    Part of the problem, too, is that you are being quite vague about your definition of “the left” (in terms of ideological, geographical, and historical scope).

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  58. Pinky says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: You’re trying to play a risky game of separating facts – factoids, you call them – from the “broad arc of history”. Such an approach makes your positions unfalsifiable. Of course, you can have all the unfalsifiable positions you want, but when you go around correcting people who don’t agree with them, the burden falls on you. Your certitude and pre-dismissal of contrary facts aren’t enough to persuade.

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  59. @Pinky:

    You are the one that started off with “It was the left that had a love affair with Hitler and Mussolini as socialist icons.” It was this assertion that I was contesting.

    I will concede that there were admirers of Hitler and Mussolini in the US in the 1930s and that there were progressives, leftist, etc. among those admirers. That does make it accurate to say that “the left that had a love affair” or that they were “socialist icons”–I am sorry, but that simply isn’t the case.

    But, of course, it depends heavily on your definition of “the left” as well as the phrases “love affair” and “icon.”

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  60. Kylopod says:

    @buzz4t:

    All the other stuff you mention is either from the social conservatives of the Republican Party trying to co-opt

    Please name a single Tea Party leader of note who rejected social-conservative positions on abortion or gay rights.

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  61. Pinky says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It was this assertion that I was contesting.

    I know. And you contested it by saying it’s not true and failing to provide any reason for saying so, and stating that no evidence on my part would convince you otherwise. You can understand why that isn’t persuasive? I could pull quotes and do research that would persuade a neutral observer, but you’ve already stated that you don’t care about such things.

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  62. @Pinky: Never mind. Hitler and Mussolini were socialist icons.

    Enjoy.

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  63. wr says:

    @buzz4t: The “tea party itself” is a bunch of old, scared whites from the midwest and south who are terrified at seeing the onrushing of a multicultural world. They dress up their panic by claiming it’s all about the constitution, but all they know of that document comes down to comic book versions of the second and tenth amendments. They are desperate suckers waiting to be fleeced, and the scammers of the Republican party have been eager to oblige.

    The only people they are fooling are themselves — and, I suppose, you.

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  64. wr says:

    @Pinky: ” It was the left that had a love affair with Hitler and Mussolini as socialist icons”

    I realize that you know absolutely nothing about American history, but you might want to look up those great American leftists Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh, both of whom were quite enamored with the Fascist movement.

    If you want to smear the left, then you may correctly point out to the romance some had with Stalin in the 30s. But the left — which was based in the nascent labor movement — would never support the Fascists, who drew their strength from an alliance with business and were dedicated to crushing labor.

    Oh, and here’s a helpful hint for you — the moment most of those on the left who believed in Stalin stopped seeing him in a positive light was when he signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler — which would have been kind of a weird thing to do if they were supporting Der Fuhrer.

    I’m sure you’ll come back with a snappy comeback about how the word Nazi stood, in part, for National Socialism. But don’t bother. No one here is stupid enough not to understand the truth, and there’s no point in making yourself look like an idiot.

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  65. willis says:

    @wr: Liar

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  66. Sorry, I respectfully disagree with the author. Putin is not nearly as authoritarian as he’s been portrayed by a cynical, intelligence community influenced mainline media (Washington Post now that Bezos owns them is practically a broadsheet for the CIA). Compared to U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia or Bhahrain, Russia is a semi-free country albiet one that is quick to break up protests. The Occupy Movement in the U.S. also got truncheoned and tear gassed heavily once Obama and Soros’ people realized they would not be coopted.

    Berezovsky was a thug and likely ordered the contract killing of Forbes editor Paul Klebnikov. The two Chechens who murdered Politkovskaya, or were at least the trigger men, were brought to justice. Khodorkovsky may not have personally ordered contract killings but evaded taxes on a massive scale and individuals opposed to Yukos in his Siberian company towns were murdered, including one on Mikhail Borisovich’s birthday (since Politkovskaya’s death coinciding with Putin’s birthday is said to be absolute evidence of guilt in most Western media). And we’re really going to fault Putin for brutally putting down an Islamist insurrection backed by Saudi Arabia and Turkey in Chechnya, even NOW after the Boston bombing?

    Some ‘conservative’ eternal Cold Warriors apparently would still support Osama bin Laden if he were alive today so long as he claimed to be fighting Russia in Syria, apparently…eternal Cold Warriors know nothing and have learned nothing, like the Bourbons. Putin did the U.S. a favor by keeping a Saudi/Qatari-bought Obama Administration out of Syria, even if he had to blackmail Obama with FLIR footage of CIA MANPADs smuggled out of Benghazi to Syrian jihadists or unreleased Snowden docs to do it…

    Second, and this is the most important thing for conservatives to understand: as the U.S. Establishment has become more crazed, discredited and divorced from reality, it’s no wonder even cynical foreign leaders like Putin can sometimes appear sane by contrast. And yes, Putin does not apologize for Russia’s historic traditions, whether good or bad, in the face of the PC police and those who suddenly decided aggressively promoting homosexuality worldwide is a fundamental American principal.

    Ronald Reagan’s Administration may have intervened privately on behalf of homosexuals persecuted by the Soviet authorities but gay rights simply wasn’t at the top of his list compared to all the other issues. I mean for God’s sake people we’re only one generation removed from the Supreme Court of the U.S. upholding a law making sodomy a criminal offence — a law incidentally Russia does not have, if it did Moscow wouldn’t have a dozen or so openly operating gay clubs. Buchanan is correct that more than half the world’s countries simply don’t give a rat’s patoot about gay rights and won’t no matter how much taxpayer money is poured into the Rainbow Flag crusade.

    No, what this sudden effort to ‘link’ social conservatives to Putin by cherry picking Buchanan or Dreher’s comments is about is a corrupt RINO Establishment desperately trying to revive the Cold War, and angry that millions of conservatives or even libertarians still think Snowden did the right thing even if they’re unhappy he’s landed in Moscow. Simply put, the Washington Establishment and its fake neocon mouthpieces led by the War Street Journal editorial board, the Weekly War Standard, and the like are going to do ANYTHING they can to ‘link’ conservative opposition to unlimited NSA spying, the Federal Reserve’s unlimited e-money printing, and the like to Putin. Whatever it takes to maintain a dying, crumbling status quo and convince once falling in line grassroots Republicans that Chris Christie or Scott Walker is a winner in 2016.

    Putin is no conservative in the Anglo-American understanding of that term. He’s a Russian Gaullist who has cleverly exploited the stupidity, laziness and decadence of America and Great Britain’s elites. Deal with it people.

    As for this ‘desperately try to link the tea party to Putin’ crap, they already tried it using YOUR TAXPAYER DOLLARS at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty with their employee Irina Severin. When I called her out for violating the Hatch Act on Twitter and on my blog, Ms. Severin protected her tweets and tried to cover up her outrageous equating of Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz as ‘Putin favorites’ and ludicrous claim that ‘Stalin agent Ayn Rand founded the Tea Party’. If that isn’t proof that certain Russian journalists are little more than sock puppets for D.C. banskter/kleptocrat agitprop. I mean, how did it get to the point that the U.S. media went from supporting genuine dissidents/genius intellectuals like Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov against Soviet tyranny to backing the chicken diddling freaks of Pussy Riot or the cross-choppers of FEMEN? When did ‘the West’ and ‘conservatism’ mean supporting neo-Bolshevik freaks and even fringe fascists in Russia like Navalny who represent 2% of the Russian electorate?

    http://mattforney.com/2012/08/13/lock-pussy-riot-up-and-throw-away-the-key/

    What’s next, any bubba who buys Tula works ammo at Wal Mart is a ‘neoConfederate insurrectionist backed by Putin’? I can see that deranged D.C. talking point coming a mile away. We’re always told the extreme left and right have converged over Snowden, but nobody talks about the kleptocrat/Military Industrial Complex loving GOP getting in bed with the Surveillance State worshipping, gun grabbing Democrats to protect their perks and gravy train from the pesky Occupy/Tea Party peasants.

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  67. @michael reynolds:

    “And our nuts don’t accumulate arsenals to water the tree of liberty with the blood of fag*ots and ni**ers. No, that’s just on the right” Yeah, except YOUR NUTS run the DHS and are stockpiling 2 billion bullets (Forbes, AP reported, so it’s not a ‘tinfoil hat conspiracy theory’). Just…in…case…they need to order that domestic security force that’s just as well funded, just as powerful as our military Obama called for in 2008 to wipe out some bitter clinger Neo-Confederate insurrectionists. The Left has its own Civil War 2 chickenhawks lusting for the chance to join a ‘federal miltia’ and finally kill some Duck Dynasty types. Go read the comment thread sewers at Bob Cesca’s Daily Banter or Little Green Footballs if you doubt this.

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  68. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Margaret Sanger wasn’t a Leftist icon? Didn’t Adolf give her a medal for her advocacy of eliminating ‘human weeds’? Mussolini had plenty of leftist U.S. admirers.

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  69. @rosignol:

    For once, I can agree with this. It isn’t as if Buchanan has been hugely influential on the Right since oh, 1992.

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  70. dazedandconfused says:

    @An Interested Party:

    That they had nothing in common aside from tossing political opponents in the clink is my point.

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  71. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Freedom House is a CIA front, has been for years, populated by doddering eternal Cold Warriors and people who get paid to push Color Revolution koolaid. If Putin didn’t win the 2012 Russian election, who did? They can’t answer that simple question, ergo I don’t take them seriously, even if Putin enjoyed lavish support from mainstream media and won 99.9% of the vote in certain precincts of Chechnya. Well so did Obama in most precincts in Detroit, and he had lots of MSM support too.

    Do I LIKE that Putin came back for an FDR style third or even fourth term? Hell no. Does that demonstrate that Russia has very weak institutions, such that one man becomes too important for the system to function? Absolutely.

    But the idea that Russia is America’s no. 1 geopolitical foe is horsehockey. Hell, Mitt Romney’s son told the Russians not to believe it while he was visiting Moscow shortly before the November 2012 election! Mitt’s buddy Steve Forbes loves him some Moscow where they implemented the flat tax. Steve F. is probably a big reason Forbes publishes the contrarian columnist Mark Adomanis, who debunks much of our rabidly Russophobic, lazy, Cold War trope citing press.

    It’s a shame some conservatives are so gullible they buy this you’re either with unlimited spying by the NSA with a joke fig leaf of a FISA court and see no evil ‘oversight’ by fanboys and girls like Feinstein and Rogers, or you’re with Putin. How did it come to such gross oversimplifications, and whom do such contrasts serve? That’s right, the banksters that want Republican sheeple to stay that way and not look behind the curtain at the Federal Reserve or why the NSA is spying more on Americans (social control/blackmail, even using metadata alone to cross check Senators dials with known drug dealers’/madams numbers) and Germans (economic rivalry) than it is on the Russians and Chinese (too much encryption and too few linguists who can be trusted)!

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  72. @buzz4t:

    There are gay tea partyers. Look at Gay Patriot or the Pink Pistols organization in Austin. But not every gay tea partyer thinks gay pride parades, even if expressions of Constitutional right to demonstrate, make gays look good or are mature.

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  73. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Are you kidding me? The U.S. and British governments don’t try to manipulate what’s available online? Did you see Channel 4 taking down the Snowden video on Christmas day because of ‘copyright’? Ever heard of SOPA or CISPA?

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  74. @Kylopod:

    Glenn Reynolds. You may have heard of him, he runs a little blog or something…

    And Matt Drudge could very well be gay, I don’t know. He’s not married.

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  75. dazedandconfused says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    All such concepts are complex, yes. Is this really all that tricky in this case? Not especially,

    First, you seem to be ignoring the rather extensive information about the state of politics in Russia at the moment (as well as the role that Putin played in getting it to that point).

    Second, there is a difference between an authoritarian act and actually being an authoritarian ruler,

    Third, you are comparing a president in the middle of a civil war and one in a non-emergency situation. This complicates the comparison, to out it mildly.

    I’m not ignoring that at all.

    It’s more tricky than that for those who believe, like I do, that when Putin rose to power the place was teetering on the brink of chaos, and that condition is what he drew his political base from. That civil war had not broken out yet is not proof that the people didn’t perceive the situation to be an emergency.

    He’s a Burke-ian conservative, change must be incremental and slow. Hence the sad look when he sat across from Kerry in that pic. There is a fundamental difference in their opinions that can’t be bridged. All revolutions do not wind up like the US one did, and encouraging them is, to Putin, very naive.

    Egypt just snapped back to military rule. The people demanded it.

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  76. @dazedandconfused:

    It’s more tricky than that for those who believe, like I do, that when Putin rose to power the place was teetering on the brink of chaos, and that condition is what he drew his political base from.

    That doesn’t make his actions less authoritarian. You may be arguing that it made them more necessary, but that is a different argument.

    Burkean conservative? I don’t that fits.

    All revolutions do not wind up like the US one did, and encouraging them is, to Putin, very naive.

    I wasn’t arguing for an outcome. I am arguing about proper definition.

    Egypt just snapped back to military rule. The people demanded it.

    Some demanded it, yes. That doesn’t make it less authoritarian. Of course, the military never really left power.

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  77. Pinky says:

    @wr:

    I’m sure you’ll come back with a snappy comeback about how the word Nazi stood, in part, for National Socialism.

    Maybe I would have – I mean, it’s obvious – but I probably wouldn’t have. I don’t care what a group calls themselves. If memory serves, the Nazis initially called themselves the Free Corps. It didn’t make them any freer. I would have pointed out that the Nazis believed in national socialism, which was a very national, very socialistic ideology.

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  78. dazedandconfused says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I thought I was arguing that all authoritarianism is not in all cases “the enemy of human freedom”, but perhaps have not been very clear about that.

    I was under the impression Burke advocated for slow incremental change, but I nod to your opinion, as you are certainly far more knowledgeable on the topic than I am. I may well be very wrong about that. I see Putin as a product of his time and place, but seeking to modernize and integrate Russia with the world. However, he views order as the #1 priority. Well…I cut him some slack on that. Fighting mobs is a dirty business, especially when they were becoming closer connected to the oligarchs that controlled the nations wealth. There may not be a correct term for it, but feel certain “the enemy to human freedom” is at best misleading.

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  79. @dazedandconfused: Burke did argue for incremental change, I would argue that it takes more than that sentiment to be Burkean (but we can set that aside).

    Let me agree that a given authoritarian move may detract, ultimately, for human freedom over the long haul (although in the short term, it probably does). I can even accept the notion that a given authoritarian move may lead to democratization later.

    However, parsing words and phrases aside, my bottom line point is that if we look at the sum total of Putin’s time in power we see a pretty clear pattern away from democracy and towards an entrenched authoritarianism with only the veneer of democracy.

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  80. wr says:

    @Pinky: “I would have pointed out that the Nazis believed in national socialism, which was a very national, very socialistic ideology.”

    You know, that’s very true, as long as you know absolutely nothing about socialism or Nazism.

    My goodness, I think I’ve finally met someone ignorant enough to be impressed by Jonah Goldberg!

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  81. Pinky says:

    I don’t see how it’s Burkean to incrementally move away from rights.

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  82. Pinky says:

    @wr: Yeah, that’s right, I don’t know anything about history except for what I read from Goldberg. And his writings are brand-new and totally…wait a second, let me say this without sarcasm, so I can be clear about it. I’ve never read his book. I know of his thesis, and it’s hardly original. In fact, you’d have to have missed a lot of history to believe that it’s even controversial. He packaged it in a provocative way, which made it bait for guys like Glenn Beck, but the premise of it is so transparently right as to be almost obvious.

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  83. Wr says:

    @Pinky: As long as you learned all your history from the John Birch Society newsletter.

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  84. Kirk Parker says:

    JohnMcC,

    Indeed, but your ending sentence was truncated. I’m sure you meant to write:

    “…the British-French-Russian alliance encircled and threatened them, and Britain wanted to sell them shit.”

    ;-)

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  85. Kylopod says:

    @Tom Paine Pamphleteer: Drudge is staunchly pro-life. I haven’t been able to find any information (I admit I’m not an expert) on his views on gay rights. And by the way, the possibility that he might be a closeted gay himself is not evidence that he has rejected social-conservatism.

    I do concede the point about Glenn Reynolds. But how representative is he of the overall movement? Most of the big Tea Party stars–including most if not all of the Tea Party Caucus, not to mention the TP-favorite presidential candidates in 2012 (Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry) are solidly pro-life and against SSM. This pattern reflects the views of most of the movement’s supporters:

    “While registered voters as a whole are closely divided on same-sex marriage (42% in favor, 49% opposed), Tea Party supporters oppose it by more than 2-to-1 (64% opposed, 26% in favor). Similarly, almost six-in-ten (59%) of those who agree with the Tea Party say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, 17 percentage points higher than among all registered voters.”

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  86. Kylopod says:

    @Pinky:

    I’ve never read his book. I know of his thesis, and it’s hardly original.

    Well maybe before offering an opinion on the thesis of a book you haven’t read, you ought to take a look at the views of some actual historians and scholars of fascism who have read the book. Here is a sampling:

    Robert Paxton: “…Goldberg’s scholarship is not an even-handed search for understanding, following the best evidence fully and open-mindedly wherever it might lead. He chooses his scholarly data selectively and sometimes misleadingly in the service of his demonstration…. Goldberg hijacks scholarly work and applies it in misleading ways for his own purposes.”

    Roger Griffin: “Even if it purports to be (i.e. masquerades as) a thoroughly researched ‘alternative’ or ‘secret’ analysis and history of fascism, Liberal Fascism is to the trained eye a patent exercise in propaganda…. its revisionism directly parallels that of the Institute of Historical Review, which produces euphemistic essays in Holocaust Denial misleadingly adorned with full scholarly apparatus, an airbrushed Playboy variant of racist political pornography.”

    Matthew Feldman: Goldberg’s thesis is “utterly fanciful.”

    But I suppose a non-historian who hasn’t read the book is better equipped than any of these fellows to determine that its thesis is “so transparently right as to be almost obvious” and not even “controversial.”

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  87. dazedandconfused says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    the sum total of Putin’s time in power we see a pretty clear pattern away from democracy and towards an entrenched authoritarianism with only the veneer of democracy.

    I agree except the entrenched part. Jury is still out. Napoleon crowned himself emperor too, as enough of the population was willing to tolerate that. Discouraged with the apparent alternative…for the moment.

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  88. Pinky says:

    @dazedandconfused: The whole point of authoritarianism is that it suppresses the individual’s say-so. Increasing authoritarianism isn’t consensual.

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  89. Pinky says:

    @Kylopod: If two authors are enough for Doug to refer to the “cultural conservative love affair with Vladimir Putin”, then there’s more than enough evidence to say that the progressive movement adored Hitler and Mussolini. If Goldberg went overboard (and I’m sure he did), the actual quotes of praise that he collected are real and more numerous than Doug has provided for his thesis. And look at the utter nuttiness of this thread. People are willing to write their analysis of why the social conservatives would embrace Putin, and are willing to reject the stronger evidence of the left embracing Hitler and Mussolini, because it fits their world view. Someone’s got to call them on that.

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  90. @Pinky: Yes,I would agree that Doug’s post is overly broad in the net it casts. I would further state that the Buchanan is not representative of current conservatism. Dreher is moreso, but one columnist does not a pattern make. So you have a more than valid point there.

    However, asserting Hitler and Mussolini at socialists icons is doubly down on the same flawed approach. Asserting the value and quality of Goldberg’s work doesn’t help your case, either.

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  91. @dazedandconfused:

    I agree except the entrenched part. Jury is still out. Napoleon crowned himself emperor too, as enough of the population was willing to tolerate that. Discouraged with the apparent alternative…for the moment.

    Well, yes, things can change. However, in regards to the Putin era, his personal power has become increasingly entrenched. He is, as the word suggests, difficult to dislodge at the moment.

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  92. Kylopod says:

    @Pinky: I take your point about Doug’s thesis. I do not think Buchanan and Dreher are by themselves evidence of a larger trend among “conservatives.” But as they say, two wrongs don’t make a right. If you’re using Goldberg’s thesis as a reductio ad absurdum against Doug’s, fine, but if you actually take it seriously, you’re making the same mistake he did.

    Also, when you refer to “the progressive movement,” it would be helpful to capitalize it. The early-20th-century Progressive Movement is not the same as modern-day liberals who style themselves “progressives” (a practice that goes back only about 10-15 years and is primarily a reaction to the derogatory usage of the word “liberal” by conservatives). The choice of name does indicate some nostalgia for the old Progressives, and there is some affinity in terms of economic philosophy, but the two movements aren’t in any way identical: one didn’t spring directly from the other, and they aren’t ideologically the same. Many of the old Progressives were very culturally conservative–it helps explain, among other things, why they favored Prohibition (quick Q: libertarians notwithstanding, which side if the political spectrum would you say has generally been more skeptical of the War on Drugs?), or why one of their major figures, William Jennings Bryan, ended his career defending creationism at the Scopes Trial.

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  93. dazedandconfused says:

    @Pinky:

    Increasing authoritarianism isn’t consensual.

    There are lots of examples of people willingly allowing increases in authoritarianism in exchange for basic security. Might be a definition of “government” right there.

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  94. dazedandconfused says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Well, yes, things can change. However, in regards to the Putin era, his personal power has become increasingly entrenched. He is, as the word suggests, difficult to dislodge at the moment.

    Full agreement on that. I would even deem it impossible. There is (IMO) something very different from us about their society, as it exist right now, a lack of an ability to imagine a “loyal opposition” sharing equally in power. Stalin left a deep mark on them, and the Czars before him as well, perhaps. I see no close example here to the way they both swear at and by the man.

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  95. grumpy realist says:

    @Pinky: You’re quoting something from Jonah Goldberg as being dispositive?!! the monolingual idiot who claimed to write “a scholarly treatise” about the roots of Fascism without reading a word of the huge amount of material that has been written in German and Italian?! THAT idiot?!

    This is sort of like claiming to be able to refute Einstein while not knowing any math beyond the times tables.

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